Lyndonville girl and sheltie win state title for dog agility

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 September 2013 at 12:00 am

Provided photo – Rachael Kiefer is pictured with Gemma, a purebred Blue Merle Sheltie. They won grand champion at the State Fair for dog agility.

LYNDONVILLE – A 16-year-old from Lyndonville and her dog Gemma, a purebred Blue Merle Sheltie, were named Grand Champion at the State Fair in the dog agility competition.

Rachael Kiefer has been training with Gemma for nearly two years. Last year she was named the novice grand champion at the State Fair.

Dog agility is a timed obstacle course for dogs with colorful tunnels, jumps, teeters and walks. Rachael and Gemma started in the Orleans County 4-H program under the direction of Ron and Pat Leight.

Gemma was purchased at a breeder and has a champion show dog bloodline, but is too small for show dog requirements.

“Gemma was the puppy hiding in the back of the litter, very timid and unsure,” said Rachael’s father George Kiefer. “Rachael took a liking to her and took the challenge to work with a timid puppy.”

Rachael met her trainer, Jim Sliker of Agility Dream Dogs, during an agility demonstration during the Lyndonville July 4 celebration. Sliker helped Rachael and Gemma become Orleans County and State Fair champions.

Rachael and Gemma also competed at Nationals in Springfield, Ohio, in June, winning several first and second place finishes for trials in the junior dog ability handler division.

“Rachael and Gemma have formed a bond that goes beyond agility and is rooted in friendship,” Rachael’s father said. “Gemma waits patiently at the door every day for Rachael to come home from school. Rachael lights up at the sight of Gemma.”